26 Reasons To Do a Triathlon

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“The starting point of all achievement is desire.”
– Napoleon Hill

Would you ever do a triathlon?

It’s a simple question, yet most people would not compete in a triathlon because they are scared of the swim portion. And by scared, I mean terrified. They say they don’t know how to swim or couldn’t possibly swim the length that is required.

The swim is generally regarded as the hardest part of the tri for most people. And it’s easy to see why: Swimming is the most technique-oriented sport of the trio & most people aren’t naturally great swimmers. So rest assured, you are not alone.

These objections were what I initially thought, until I decided to do something about it. I resolved I would not let this fear keep me from competing in a triathlon. What did I do? I got a pass to the U of C pool and swam LOTS (the majority of my tri training consisted of swimming), got a swim coach, looked at swimming videos on YouTube and analyzed the best swimmers in the world (I.e. Michael Phelps & other elite Olympian’s) to see how the swim is supposed to look and tried to emulate their form each time I was in the water. To answer these swim objections for a tri race, there are 2 options: In the pool or open-water. I would advise starting off in a pool for your first triathlon and if you enjoyed it, then do an open-water swim for your second tri. That’s what I did & it worked out great.

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“The first and best victory is to conquer self.”
– Plato

With this is mind, and as per the title, here’s the list:

26 Reasons To Do a Triathlon:
 

  1. It’s summertime and winter will soon be here
  2. Opportunity to try a new sport
  3. Have fun and feel great about yourself
  4. Do something you’ve probably never done before
  5. Take advantage of playing a sport outdoors, in Mother Nature’s wonderland  
  6. Challenge yourself and be stretched in new ways
  7. Expand your outlook on life & sports
  8. Learn more about yourself and what you’re made of
  9. Know what you believe about yourself
  10. Meet lots of new people who, like you, are athletes and enjoy sports
  11. By learning a new sport you create new neural pathways in your brain to help you think better
  12. Conquer 3 sports all at once (kill 3 birds with 1 stone)
  13. Excellent workout and great for your health, sleep and well-being
  14. Releases stress and allows you to think better and more clearly
  15. Is a legal alternative for dealing with stress and frustration in your life
  16. The cross-training is excellent as you get to work & develop different muscle groups
  17. Accomplishment of a personal goal
  18. Personal satisfaction in seeing your success from beginning to the end, during the high’s and low’s
  19. Be a part of the journey (the goal) en route to the destination (not the goal)
  20. Life lessons you learn: Time prioritization, goal setting, money management, personal accountability 
  21. What you also learn: Character, integrity, dedication, suffering, struggling, discipline, follow-through & commitment
  22. Crossing the finish line on race day is the reward and the memories will last for the rest of your life
  23. Opportunity to share your story with others
  24. To be inspired and inspire others
  25. Now is the time to get fit and be more active
  26. Why not?
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Triathlon #2 – Recap

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“The rewards for those who persevere far exceed
the pain that precedes the victory.”
– Karen Bliss Livingston, Elite road racer

This has been a summer of triathlons for me. I just completed my 2nd triathlon of the season this past Sunday, August 11, 2013. The race was held in the beautiful lake community of Lake Chaparral, in south Calgary. Although I wasn’t able to have trained as much as I had hoped, due to injuries, it was a great experience and I was able to improve on my overall time from the last triathlon I competed in earlier this summer.

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Here are my thoughts for the Post-Race Recap:

Swim:

– It was long! Apparently, the swim went longer than expected as we ended up swimming 900m instead of the 750m
– The first half started off well and I was swimming great, but gradually my arms began to get tired
– It was a different experience swimming with fellow competitors in my heat all at once. My strategy was to stick to the outsides to create more open-water to swim in
– It was my 1st time swimming an open-lake swim

Bike:

– Went really well
– It was my strongest event and the sport I was the most confident at
– On my 2nd lap I took advantage of the downhill’s and pushed myself to gain faster speeds to compensate for the big uphill coming back
– The hill wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated; being a long, gradual uphill I was on my highest gear near the top but kept pushing myself
– The volunteers were really supportive and encouraging throughout the run course & helped me keep going

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“Belief triggers the power to do.”
– David Schwartz

Run:

– Had calf cramps on both legs at the beginning for several minutes after transitioning from the bike to run
– Was a long 5 km and I was really hot due to high temperatures (high 20’s Celsius)
– There weren’t any markings on the run which made it difficult to know where I was along the run portion
– Finished the race strong and ran with all my energy through the finish line & almost took out a competitor guy who finished just in front of me & had stopped right after he had crossed the finish line

Transitions:

– Secured a spot at end of rack closest to the exit, a prime location
– Had clothes and equipment well-organized to ensure a smooth & quick transition for both T1 & T2

Overall:

– Completed 2nd Sprint triathlon of the summer
– Beautiful location for the event at Lake Chaparral community
– Achieved my 2 goals for this race: 1) To finish and 2) Beat my 1st triathlon overall time (which I did by over 6 minutes)

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“Never underestimate the heart of a champion.”
– Rudy Tomjanovich

Summer Triathlon – Part IV: Post-Race Reflection

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

Over this past May long weekend I raced in my 1st triathlon. It was held in Airdrie, and at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning it was raining – slowly at first and then gradually coming down faster. Fortunately, the rain held off and made for an amazing race day. I really didn’t know what to expect. I had one goal in mind: To finish, and I was able to cross the finish line! Completing this triathlon has been a personal goal of mine and has been 2 months in the making. I learned a lot through this journey & this is an accomplishment I am really proud of.

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Here are the statistics and timing results:

  • Overall time = 1:40:18
  • Finished 53rd out of 98 people
  • Tri breakdown:
    – Swim 750 m = 20:08
    – Cycle 20 km = 51:38
    – Run 5 km = 28:32

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“You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime.” – Mark Allen, six-time Ironman Triathon World Champion

Post-Game Analysis:

  1. Swim
    – Went better than I expected, thanks to all the training
    – Felt I was well-prepared and the swim went quicker than I thought
    – Helped having a volunteer count my lengths so I could focus on each stroke
  2. Bike
    – Was windy in some areas, but in one stretch the wind was with me & I was ripping at top speed!
    – Really glad I had a road bike, versus a mountain bike, as it made for a much faster and enjoyable ride
  3. Run
    – I was told my legs would feel like Jello after the bike ride, so I allowed for my legs to warm-up in the first few hundred yards and “touch the ground”
    – The 2nd & final lap was hard as it was the last leg of the race and I was running out of energy
    – Crossed the finish line and finished strong
  4. Transitions
    – Had a great spot in the transitions area at the front so I could exit the bike and run events quickly & efficiently
    – Was well-organized and had all my gear in place and ready to go

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What I learned from this event:

  1. It pays to get to the site early to secure a good spot in the transition area
  2. Importance of pacing myself. From the start I had a marathon mentality versus a sprinters mindset as I had a big race ahead of me
  3. Rain – didn’t even plan for this! But was flexible with Mother Nature, and in the end it didn’t rain but was cool and overcast which made for ideal racing conditions
  4. Having my family there to support and cheer me on was huge (& they took awesome pictures!)
  5. During the run I noticed other athletes encouraging each other and I did the same. This helped me keep going, especially on the final lap
  6. There was one quote I thought about during the race: “Suffer the pain of discipline, or suffer the pain of regret.” This helped me press through at each stage of the race
  7. Crossing the finish line was quite an achievement and was a culmination of a lot of hard work, training, belief in myself & determination to finish the race. And what an awesome feeling it was!!!!

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I’ll end with some quotes that inspired me leading up to this tri:

  • “Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” – William Faulkner, American writer and Nobel Prize laureate
  • “The pain is temporary, the memories will last the rest of your life.” – Navy Commander John Collins & founder of Ironman
  • “If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just finish the race; it’s up to you.” – Dave Scott, US Triathlete
  • “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.” – Tommy Lasorda, Major League baseball player
  • “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should accomplish with your ability.” – John Wooden, #1 UCLA Coach of All Time

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  • “Just go out there and do what you’ve got to do.” – Martina Navratilova, Professional Tennis player
  • “Sports creates a bond between contemporaries that lasts a lifetime. It also gives your life structure, discipline and a genuine, sincere, pure fulfillment that few other areas of endeavor provide.” – Bob Cousy, NBA player
  • “If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.” – Ronnie Lott, NFL player
  • “To succeed you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.” – Tony Dorsett, Dallas Cowboys running back
  • “The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be.” – Horace Bushnell, American Congregational minister and theologian

Thank you to everyone for your encouragement & support for me in this endeavor!

Summer Triathlon – Part III: What I’m Learning

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“An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.” – Emil Zatopek

 

“What are you learning?” I was asked this recently by one of my sister’s. With less than 3 weeks until the proverbial gun goes off, I have been through several experiences en route to this competition. Through this process there are several aspects I’ve learned along the way. Five stand out in particular, and they are:

  1. Injuries: Importance of pacing myself
    – In each of the 3 tri sports I have injured myself as a result of pushing myself too hard during the training sessions. This results in losing days when I could be training as it takes time for the injury to heal
    – To avoid this I’ve learned to ease in to each sport and focus at only going 70% instead of 100%
  2. Ask questions: Talk to other people
    – Seems obvious, but this can go a long way in understanding the sport, training ideas, diet, health & equipment suggestions
    – I talked to family, friends, health experts, elite athletes, those who have done triathlon’s before & found their insights to be quite helpful
  3. Get a coach: For those extra “training eyes”
    – This will help you improve in those sports you’re hoping to get better in to feel confident in your abilities & give you that competitive edge
    – For me, I got a swim coach to help with my stroke and technique, and it has been invaluable to my growth as a swimmer
  4. “Competitive sports are played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch court, the space between your ears.” – Bobby Jones

     

  5. Write your goal: Create a goal and WRITE IT DOWN – Something powerful happens when you write down on paper what’s important to you. It shows you’re committed to see it through to completion, intentional to follow-through at each stage, and focused to do what needs to be done – My goal is: “I want to compete in a Sprint Triathlon on Sunday, May 19, 2013 in Airdrie”
  6. Invest in equipment: Essential for your best performance
    – I went out and purchased a good pair of swimming goggles that were comfortable to wear and would prevent water from getting in my eyes while swimming
    – For goggles to fit well they’re supposed to stick to your face, on both eyes, after you let go from holding them up to your face. I went through 10+ goggles at SportChek & Swimco until I found the right fit
    – The goggles I’m using from Swimco are the “Aqua Sphere Vista Smoke Lens”

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Summer Triathlon – Part II: Planning for a Tri

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“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”   – Paul Bryant

 

As I set out on the endeavor of training for a triathlon I quickly realized the importance of planning and preparing. I had a lot of questions about the sport, and I would like to share some of these practicalities in this post. Though this is not an exhaustive list, here are some factors that have helped me as I prepare for race day.

To begin with, there were some basic questions I asked myself as I played with the idea of signing up for a triathlon:

1. What triathlons are available and when are they? (For this I went to the 2013 race schedule)

2. What type of tri would I do? (To see the differences, see my 1st blog here )

3. What are the costs involved? (I.e. Registration & sign-up, equipment, rentals, etc)

4. Do I have enough time to train?

 

Once I had determined which race I wanted to do, I was able to get more specific with the research.

First, I searched Google as there is TONS of info on the Internet about triathlons for all levels. By putting in any search keywords related to “triathlons” I was able to quickly grasp the sport and gain an overall understanding of what’s involved.

Among many others, here are some websites I found to be helpful: ITU & ATA

Second, I went to YouTube to watch some videos to gain an overall understanding of the sport, as well as techniques I could learn for the various aspects of the tri (swim, bike, run, transitions).

I watched swim videos of elite Olympic swimmers to learn the technique, as swimming is the most technique-oriented sport of the 3.

A good tri video to watch is this one

One person I enjoyed learning from is Stephen Taylor, who is a professional endurance coach. You can search his name in YouTube, and one video I enjoyed is stamina.

 

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Third, I made some calls to inquire about the following:
1. Indoor swimming pools for the best place to train for the swim. It’s hard to find pools with open lane times & I eventually decided on the U of C pool for training.

2. Clothing and equipment for the tri. For this I called a triathlon store in Calgary, Try It. They are located right across from the Bow River, and I had an excellent customer service experience. If you’re looking for clothing and equipment for your tri, I would highly recommend stopping in as they’re very helpful and offer great tips! Check out their website here

3. Places to rent road bikes. I have a mountain bike and would definitely want to be riding a road bike for the tri! I found out that both the U of C Outdoor Centre & Sports Rent rent road bikes for reasonable prices.

4. Bow Cycle for bike tune-up. Always a good idea before the competition to make sure the bike is in top shape.

In addition, I discovered it was a good idea to assess my abilities for each of the 3 sports. This would be important to know what sports I’d need to spend more training on, and where I’m already good at. For this I used a ranking system:

My abilities for the 3 sports:

  • Swim – 3rd best sport
  • Bike – 1st best sport
  • Run – 2nd best sport

I found this was good to do at the beginning as I could gauge my abilities to prioritize where to focus my training on. For me, since swimming is my weakest sport, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the pool swimming lengths and improving my stroke to feel comfortable and build endurance for the big day.

Next week, I’ll be writing about what I’ve learned through this journey. See you then!

Summer Triathlon – Part I: Intro

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“I swim in the sea of silver light.
I cycle along the road of gold delight.
I run with the smile of the beyond.”   

– Sri Chinmoy

 

Last summer, I went travelling around Europe after finishing my post-secondary education. This summer, I’ll be competing in my 1st triathlon. I’m all signed up & ready to go!

The race is on May 19th, 2013 and will be at the Genesis Place in Airdrie.

I thought I would share about my journey as I train for this triathlon (tri) and invite those who are interested to come along for the ride – no pun intended!

For this 1st post in the series, I’ll talk about the sport in general and give a high-level overview for those readers who may not know that much about triathlons (I know I certainly didn’t until recently!)

Leading up to the event, I plan on posting other updates, including: Planning for a Tri, What I’m learning, and possibly other topics as they come up.

To start with: Why am I doing this? (You might be asking this – I know I have, especially during some intense training sessions!)

There are 3 reasons:

  1. To challenge myself
  2. My love for sports and the opportunity to try a new sport
  3. I’ve wanted to do a triathlon for a few years, and now is a good time to “get ‘er done!”

To begin with, a triathlon consists of: Swimming, biking, and running (in that order).

There are 2 transitions in a triathlon race:

a. Transition 1 (T1): Swimming to biking

b. Transition 2 (T2): Biking to running

So, there are actually 5 parts of a triathlon (with each part being timed): Swim, T1, bike, T2, run.

As for distances of a tri, there are 5 standard race distances, with the last 4 being the most common:

  1. Try-a-Tri
  2. Sprint
  3. Olympic
  4. Ironman – Half
  5. Ironman – Full

I’ll be doing the Sprint tri distance.

See the chart below for the distances in each type of triathlon.

 

Swim

Bike

Run

Try-a-Tri

500 m

15 km

4 km

Sprint

750 m

20 km

5 km

Olympic

1500 m

40 km

10 km

Ironman – Half

1.9 km

90 km

21 km

Ironman – Full

3.8 km

180 km

42 km

*Check out Alberta Triathlon Association & Total Triathlon for more info.

In Part II, I’ll talk more about “Planning for a Tri”, so be sure to come back!

How To Create a Table of Contents in Word 2010

Ever write a long paper/report (which you spent hours planning, writing, and many more hours editing) and just before you’re about to submit it, you suddenly realize you need to create a Table of Contents (TOC) to give it that “professional” look?? In a panic, you then spend as much time searching Google on how to create one of those silly things as you did writing the entire paper! Here is a simple 7-step approach to follow to ensure you have that TOC when you need it most.

1. Create heading’s for your paper (titles for each section or main idea) that you want to show up in your TOC. This is the structure to your paper. You’ll need to do some planning, organizing and thinking through how you want to communicate your thoughts on paper.

Tip: You can create a TOC at any point during your writing! (at the start, in the middle, or at the end)

2. Press “Ctrl + Enter” to create a blank page you want your TOC to appear on

3. Put cursor where you want the TOC to be

4. Go to Reference, select the Table of Contents dropdown, and choose what style you want

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When you get this message, just press OK

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If nothing shows up, don’t freak out! We’ll fix this in the next step!

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5. Select and highlight each heading title, and on the Home tab choose “Heading 1” in the Styles box (This is how you get your headings to show up in the TOC)

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Tip: I like to select one heading at a time, change it to Heading 1 and update the TOC to make sure I get everything I need (You can do it all at once, no problem)

6. Now, go to your TOC and click “Update Table…” (You may have to move your mouse around over it, or click in the TOC box to get it to show up! – This tip is on me, you’re welcome!)

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Select “Update entire table” & click OK

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Tip: Page numbers are automatically included when the TOC is created, even if you haven’t set them up yet. (To learn how to setup page numbers, see the Bonus Tip below!)

Congratulations! You now have titles in your TOC!!

7. Continue working on your document, remembering to SAVE your work often & any changes you make going forward repeat #6 (to update your TOC – mainly to keep the page numbers up-to-date for each section)

Bonus Tip!!

How to add the infamous page numbers (and get them to ACTUALLY work)

1. Go to Insert
2. Chose “Page Number”
3. Open the down arrow and chose where to put page numbers (I.e. Top of page, Bottom of page – For me, I like my page numbers on the bottom right, which is the 3rd option, “Plain Number 3”, under “Bottom of Page” selection)

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4. To get Page Number 1 from not showing up on page 1

In the “Header & Footer Tools” toolbar, in the “Options” box, check “Different First Page”

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Page numbering begins on page 2

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